Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Gardyn Levington!

Hello, my friends!

I hope you’re all well and enjoying everything summer has to offer!

It’s been quite a while since we had a Tuesday Debut, but, HURRAY! We have one today!

I’m thrilled to introduce Rebecca Gardyn Levington, a graduate of Making Picture Book Magic and a frequent participant in the writing contests on this blog over the years, here today with her debut picture book, BRAINSTORM!, which I just love the whole concept of and I think you will, too!

Title: BRAINSTORM!
Author: Rebecca Gardyn Levington
Illustrator: Kate Kronreif
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Date of publication: August 3, 2022
Fiction, Age 4-8

BRAINSTORM! is a rhyming concept picture book that begins with a girl sitting at her desk at school, frustrated because she can’t think of anything to write about. As the girl stares at the storm brewing outside – kerplink! – a tiny thought falls from the sky. Soon the girl finds herself surrounded by a whirlwind of words, pictures, and ideas swirling all around her, and eventually gets caught in a happy downpour of her own creativity.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today! We can’t wait to hear all about how Brainstorm! came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: First of all, Susanna, Thank YOU so much for having me on the Tuesday Debut! I have been following this blog for YEARS and it’s such an honor to share my story with you and your readers. Thank you for all you do to help inspire and encourage us! 

As for where the idea for BRAINSTORM! came from….One rainy late October day in 2019, much like the little girl in my story, I had a terrible case of writer’s block. I was doing my best to keep my Butt In Chair, but my brain felt like the weather — cloudy, gloomy and gray. Instead of staring at the blank page, I found myself staring at the rain outside my window when I felt the drop of an idea…

What if…IDEAS poured down from the sky?… Like a…rain storm?…No! Wait! Like a….

                                    BRAINstorm!

I immediately began writing what I originally thought would remain a short little poem.

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

REBECCA: It honestly didn’t take long. Once I had the idea, the main core of the poem just poured out of me (pun intended!) It took a few more months of tinkering before it became a “real” picture book draft.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

REBECCA: As I said, BRAINSTORM! began as a poem. A pretty short poem– Just six couplets. I really thought that’s all it would be. It sat on my computer for a couple of months, but it kept calling to me, so I began tinkering. I wondered: what if it wasn’t just IDEAS that fell from the sky, but WORDS, like VERBS and NOUNS, and PHRASES and SENTENCES and CHARACTERS and PLOTS…. Suddenly, I found myself deluged in this amazing world where stories drizzled down and swirled all around us. I loved watching my MC play in the puddles! In the end, I saved 15 drafts of this story, so it definitely changed and grew over the months, but those initial six couplets (with some minor tweaks) are all still in the final version.

Rebecca’s work space

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

REBECCA: I have several critique groups and partners. I generally send a manuscript to one group at time, make changes, then send it to the next group and repeat. Once all my critique partners had seen it and no one had any major changes or suggestions, I felt it was ready.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: In summer 2019, Lori Degman chose me as one of her three #PBChat Mentees. Lori is an all-around amazing person (now good friend) and at the end of the 3-month-long mentorship she very generously offered to ask a few of the editors with whom she’d worked if they’d be willing to look at a submission from me. One of those editors was Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press.

So, in December, with Lori’s blessing and encouragement, I sent off my favorite manuscript at the time (not this one). Sarah ultimately passed, but said: “It’s really well done and I love your writing and rhythm…if you have anything else that is submission-ready, please feel free to send it my way.” I immediately sent her two more manuscripts (not this one) and heard NOTHING for months. Meanwhile, I had just polished up BRAINSTORM! and felt it was pretty strong. I wasn’t sure if I should send her a third manuscript, but I wasn’t agented at the time so my opportunities to submit were few and far between. I knew Sarah liked my writing, so I said “what the heck?!”

On March 6, 2020 (yup, just one week before we all went into quarantine!) I sent her an email, following up on the two previous manuscripts I’d sent and added, “Oh, by the way, I also have this new one called BRAINSTORM!…”  I attached it. And waited.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

REBECCA: So, as I mentioned, I sent BRAINSTORM! to Sleeping Bear in March 2020, just a week before the world shut down, so I didn’t expect to hear back for a while…and I didn’t. Two months later, in May, I followed up again and Sarah kindly responded that, thanks to the quarantine, Sleeping Bear had fallen behind with everything. However, she did chat with her editorial team and they were, unfortunately, passing on the two other manuscripts I’d sent. (whomp. whomp). BUT, she added, she loved BRAINSTORM! and wanted to bring it to their next acquisitions meeting. (WHOOHOO!)

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic — yada, yada, yada — that meeting didn’t happen until August and then finally, on August 27, 2020, I got the email that Sleeping Bear wanted to acquire it for their 2022 list! (So, to answer your question, it was about 6 months after submission, and 3 months after being told it was going to acquisitions, before I got the official “yes”!)

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

REBECCA: Oops, sorry. I think I answered this in the previous question! I got the email on August 27, 2020! I remember standing in my kitchen with my phone in my hand and I just went mute and started shaking. My kids were at the table, obliviously eating lunch, and I think my husband asked me something, but I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t stop staring at the email! Finally, one of my kids asked: “Mom, are you okay?” And I told them the news! I just couldn’t believe one of my stories was FINALLY going to be a book!

SUSANNA: Such an amazing feeling! How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

REBECCA: Exactly one month. I was at a Highlights retreat with one of my critique buddies, Kelly Conroy, and I had been complaining all weekend how long it was taking for them to send the contract. Turns out, it had been sitting in my SPAM folder for an entire day! Since I was unagented at the time, I hired a lawyer to help me look through it. After a very brief negotiation, I received my final executed contract another month later, at the end of October. It seemed like it took forever to get the contract, but now that I’ve sold more books, I realize that two months from offer to executed contract is actually LIGHTNING FAST!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

REBECCA: I don’t remember celebrating signing the contract. I think by the time I’d signed it, I had already finished off all the champagne!  😊

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

REBECCA: My advance was lower than I’d expected, but because this was my first sale and because I didn’t have an agent at the time (and because I HATE confrontation) I was terrified of pushing back. The only thing I asked for was more author copies and a few changes to some of the wording. There was a part of me that believed that if I asked for too much the publisher would change their mind about the offer. Now that I’ve sold more books, I realize that was ridiculous. By the time you receive an offer, it has had to jump through SO many hoops that the publisher isn’t about to say “Oh, never mind then” if you respectfully ask for a little more. Publishers EXPECT to negotiate. I’ve learned now that it never hurts to ask. The absolutely WORST that will happen is that they will say “no” to that specific term. Since signing this contract, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with negotiation. (Although I definitely prefer having my agent do it for me!)

Oh, and one quick thing about royalties that may be helpful. I didn’t know this at the time, but some publishers pay royalties based upon the “suggested retail price” of the book and others pay based upon “net receipts,” so read your contract carefully! A 5% royalty is standard but ONLY if it’s based on “suggested retail price.” If you are getting royalties based on “net receipts” you want to be sure your royalties are much higher, or around 10%. Also, if you are unagented, I HIGHLY recommend all the incredible information available for FREE at The Author’s Guild. They have a “model contract” you can look at that is extremely helpful for understanding what is “normal” and what is a “red flag:” https://www.authorsguild.org/member-services/legal-services/model-book-contract/

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

REBECCA: Amazingly, there were very, very few changes to my original text. I think the biggest edit was changing the word “boots” to “shoes” because we weren’t sure what type of footwear the illustrator would choose for the MC. Ultimately Kate did end up having the MC wear boots, so we changed it back! There might have been another word or two that changed, but that was all.

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

REBECCA: I was thrilled when I heard that Kate Kronreif would be illustrating! I was sent initial character sketches for review and my editor, Sarah, and I had a Zoom call to discuss the initial black and white sketches, as well as the color sketches once they were available. Sarah asked for my feedback on the cover as well. I felt very included in the process and that my opinion mattered, and Sarah was always open and willing to answer all my questions along the way. Now that I see the final product, I realize how difficult this story must’ve been to illustrate! I mean, how does someone illustrate “An easy breeze becomes a blast/of funny phrases flying past?” Thank goodness both Sarah and Kate totally understood my vision and took it to the next level!

text copyright Rebecca Gardyn Levington 2022, illustration copyright Kate Kronreif 2022, Sleeping Bear Press
text copyright Rebecca Gardyn Levington 2022, illustration copyright Kate Kronreif 2022, Sleeping Bear Press

I didn’t include any art notes in this manuscript, but I had a few ideas in my head about how I thought an illustrator might interpret this story. For instance, I was imagining a sort of “Wizard of Oz” scenario – where things started off super gloomy and gray and ended up in a whirlwind of color. So, I was a little surprised initially when I saw all the color Kate put into the book from the very first spread. BUT, it is PERFECT! And I absolutely LOVE everything she did and now I can’t imagine it any other way! The book is vibrant, exciting and playful, which is exact want kids to feel when they are stomping around in their idea puddles!  The only part of the illustration process that I was directly involved with was, at Sarah’s request, providing Kate with lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, titles, sentences, “funny phrases,” “wacky plots,” etc. that she could use as inspiration and to weave throughout the illustrations.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

REBECCA: Yes! I received a Kirkus review — and it’s a good one! You can read the full review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rebecca-gardyn-levington/brainstorm-levington/ and here’s the condensed blurb:

“…The metaphor nicely captures the creative process—from the frustration of waiting for inspiration to the anticipation of something gathering in the distance to the sought-after deluge of ideas […] Entertaining reassurance and lighthearted encouragement for those tough first moments of putting pencil to paper.” 

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

REBECCA: I still haven’t received my author copies! Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, my book birthday was bumped from July 15th to August 3rd! I was told I’ll be getting my copies at the same time as everyone else, so if that’s true, it will be almost exactly 2 years from book offer book in hand!

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

REBECCA: My publisher sent a digital F&G of the book to all the major advanced reviewers and put it up on Edelweiss. They also organized a pre-order campaign with a local bookstore and designed a bookmark for me to use, as well as activity sheets and a teacher’s guide. They also created an adorable trailer that they posted on social media. I also discovered that the Association of School Librarians in my state (NJ) is holding a conference in December and they agreed to cover a good portion of my costs to attend.

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

REBECCA: I reached out to a bunch of podcasters and bloggers (like you!) about a year in advance to set up my #BrainstormBlogTour (I realize now, I started a bit too early – I probably only needed to start about 3-ish months in advance!) Once I received the digital review copy, I sent it to fellow authors to post early reviews on GoodReads and Barnes & Noble (Amazon doesn’t allow reviews to be posted until the release date). I also applied to have a table at several in-person book festivals in my area this fall, and I have been hosting giveaways on social media.

In addition, I hired a professional web designer to re-vamp my website, RebeccaGardynLevington.com. I used Jenny Medford at WebsyDaisy and she did an INCREDIBLE job. I can’t recommend her enough.

Lastly, I am part of a wonderful debut group called KidLit Caravan (www.kidlitcaravan.com). We are 13 picture book authors and author/illustrators who support each other’s journey, promoting cover reveals, pre-order announcements, and book birthdays/launches on social media. We review each other’s books and request that our local libraries order them. One of our members, Carrie Tillotson (author of the adorable Counting To Bananas), is a whiz when it comes to graphic design and I hired her to create a “sell sheet” for BRAINSTORM! that I could take with me to bookstores and libraries when I introduce myself so that they can have all the relevant information at hand and (hopefully!) place an order for the book.

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

REBECCA: About four years. In my life B.C. (“Before Kids”) I was a magazine editor and then a freelance journalist so I’d already had hundreds of articles published in various magazines and newspapers. I stopped writing once I started having kids but, after almost a decade of full time Mommy-ing, I realized how much I missed playing with words. I discovered SCBWI and attended my first regional NJ conference in the summer of 2016. I was blown away. I finally felt at home. I knew writing picture books and poems for kids was what I was meant to do.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

REBECCA: Two things:

1) Put yourself and your work out into the world as much as you can. Enter ALL the contests (Like Susanna’s amazing Halloweensie, Valentiny, and Holiday contests, Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords, Madness!Poetry, etc.), enter ALL the mentorships (like the #PBChat Mentorship Program), do ALL the Twitter parties (like #PBPitch, #PitMad and #PBParty), go to as many conferences and webinars as you can and join ALL the groups. Take advantage of professional critiques, if possible. If you don’t have an agent and have an opportunity to send your work to an editor, DO IT! (I sold my second book to HarperCollins via a submission opportunity after a conference and that helped me land my agent as well!). Be as active as you can in the KidLit community and always, ALWAYS be kind, respectful and supportive. The connections you make along the way will lead you to opportunities you can’t even imagine!

2) While you should, of course, write stories that come from your heart, it is crucial to remember that children’s book publishing is a BUSINESS. An editor may think your story is “cute” or “funny” or “heartfelt,” but before she can acquire it, she has to prove to all the financial and marketing people that your story will SELL. So you MUST think about “hooks.” Who is buying your book and WHY? Can your book be sold during a holiday? Can teachers use your book in a classroom (if so, consider adding back matter!). Does it have social-emotional themes that make it easy to explain a difficult subject matter? Etc. One thing I always do now is, once I’ve created my first draft, I stop everything, write my pitch and logline and research comp titles. As I continue to revise, I have a very clear idea of what the book is really about, what the hooks are, and how I will sell the idea to an editor.

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

REBECCA: So, this may sound completely counterintuitive to what I just said about “hooks” and marketability, BUT… When you have an idea that you feel you need to write about, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just GO WITH IT! Don’t stop to think too hard about marketability and hooks (yet!). Write what is in your heart. Get it down. BRAINSTORM! came to me in what felt like a rush of creativity. I couldn’t stop it. I had to write it! At the time I didn’t think at all about marketability. I was just having fun writing a poem. It wasn’t until after that I went back and said: “You know…I think if I add more of X,Y,Z, I bet teachers could use this in their classrooms….”  Once I realized that not only was this a FUN book for kids to read, but that it also had an educational “hook,” I knew I was on to something. 

Author Rebecca Gardyn Levington (photo credit Joy Yagid)

Website: http://www.RebeccaGardynLevington
Twitter: @WriterRebeccaGL
Facebook: @WriterRebeccaGL
Instagram: @RebeccaGardynLevington

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Rebecca, and for sharing your journey and answering our questions and giving us so much to think about! We so appreciate it! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

Readers, if you have questions for Rebecca, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

To pre-order a personalized signed copy of BRAINSTORM!, visit Rebecca’s local indie: https://store.wordsbookstore.com/preorder-signed-copy-brainstorm

You may also purchase Rebecca’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

The 2022 Valentiny Contest WINNERS!!!

Once upon a time. . .

. . . on a blueberry-covered hill not all that far, far away in upstate New York. . .

. . .a princess lived in a little house in the woods.

(I know. You’re wondering why the princess lived in a little house in the woods. “That’s not right!” I hear you saying. “Princesses are supposed to live in castles, or be trapped in towers or dungeons!” But this is not your usual run-of-the-mill princess. . .)

This princess was a champion pogo-sticker (yes, that is too a word.) She had been training for years, doing hours of jumping, and keeping to a strict diet of Spring Beans and Garbouncebos. It was very effective. The villagers could often be heard proclaiming, “That princess sure is full of beans!” And, “Boy! Can she bounce!”

The Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship, the most prestigious of all pogosticking competitions in the Universe, was only days away, and the princess (whose name was Poppy – so fitting, don’t you think? due to all that popping up and down? it’s almost like her excellence in pogosticking was foreseen when her parents picked her name. . .) but anyway, Poppy passionately wanted to win the competition and the life-size golden pogostick trophy that was the prize!

There was just one small problem. . .

She was supposed to have posted the winners for the 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest and she had spent so much time jumping and bouncing and eating beans and various other explosive foods that she had not done it. NO, SHE HAD NOT!

So her mother said, “Poppy, there will be no Pogosticking Championship for you until you have met your obligations! I will not have shirkers in my little house in the woods!”

Well. Poppy REALLY wanted to get to that Championship! So she sat on her hippity-hop (great indoor leg strength building for bouncing and jumping muscles) and made the list of winners and honorable mentions in record time (because Poppy was all about making records, whether in pogosticking or in judging whilst hippity-hopping and continuing her bean eating!)

“I am so proud of you, Poppy,” her mother said. “Not only have you fulfilled your obligations, you have kept up with your exercise regimen and your bean eating at the same time, showing great commitment to your sport and your goals! Now, go to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and jump the socks off your competitors!”

There will now be a short commercial break to announce the WINNERS of . . .

The 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

(don’t worry – you’ll find out what happened to Poppy after this break from our sponsors)

First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest.  You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for so many! As always, I was thrilled to see so many wonderful stories!  It is amazing and inspiring, not to mention VERY entertaining!  There is just so much talent out there amongst you all!  The other judges and I are blown away anew each time!

Second, I’d also like to thank EVERYONE – writer, reader, or both – who took the time to read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments.  This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories.  It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed.  I hope you all got as much delight  and entertainment out of the reading as I did!  Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! 😊

Third, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose!  There were so many amazing entries.  Really.  I could find at least something terrific about every single one.  The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut.  We chose 14 finalists, and around 35 Honorable Mentions which we also loved, and even with those 49 total there were nearly 150 entries we couldn’t list! So if yours didn’t make the final cut please don’t feel bad.  You’re in good company! There was a huge amount of competition. And remember that the judging is based on the contest criteria. If you wrote a great story that didn’t showcase pride enough or that was too grown-up or not related to Valentine’s Day, you didn’t make the final cut.  But that DOES NOT mean you didn’t write a great story.  Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner!  You showed up.  You did your best work.  You practiced your craft.  You wrote to specifications and a deadline.  You bravely shared your writing with the world.  And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 214 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript.  So bravo to everyone who entered!

Because it was such a hard choice, and there were so many wonderful stories, before we get to the winners, my assistant judges and I would like to award bragging rights, recognition and a small prize to the following authors for the following merits:

1.  For Honorable Mention In The Competition As A Whole: (entries we truly wrestled with not including in the finalists!)

Lori Sheroan for The Proudest Pencil

Susannah Lee for Shelby’s Heartache

Claire Noland for The Valentine Surprise

Chayala Nachum for My Icky Sticky Valentine (great kid appeal too!)

Rachel Bandy for V’s For Valentine

Terri Hellard-Brown for Isabella’s Valentine

Becky Goodman for ValenTalent Show

Lauri C. Meyers for My Gummy Love

Susanne Whitehouse for The Mural

Judy Sobanski for Sloth’s Original Valentine

Laura Bower for Llama Love

Sara Kruger for The Perfect Present

2. For Great Read Aloud:

Brigid Finucane for Love Somebody (makes you want to sing and dance 😊)

3. For Great Story For Younger Readers:

Patti Ranson for Valentines Breakfast For Mom

Cindy Greene for Valentine’s Day Heartache

Tara Knox Cerven for The Purrfect Valentine

Lori C. Evans for Never Too Many Valentines

4. For Humor:

Donna Kurtz for Don’t-Let-The-Dung-Beetle-Make-The-Valentine-Brownies!

Jill Purtee for Gumballs

5. For Fun POV/Character:

Jenna Elyse Johnson for Hammie’s Valentine Surprise (dog)

Deborah Foster for Gary Groundhog Conquers The Shadow Monster (groundhog/snowhog)

6. For Great Ending:

Alayne Kay Christian for What Kind Of Cupid Am I?

Kristy Roser Nuttall for Love Inside

Mary Schultz for Taffy’s Sweet Surprise

7. For Well-Written Story With Great Sibling Interaction:

Julianna Helt for Allie’s Biggest Heart

Armineh Manookian for Lost But Found

Erika Romero for You Make Me So Proud

8. For Beautiful Writing:

A. Kidd for Three Hearts

Corine Timmer for It’s A Matter Of Taste (also educational and funny ending!)

9. For Best Short Valentiny Story:

Marty Findley for A Valentine For You (64 words!)

10. For Sweet Valentiny:

Heather Ferranti Kinser for Teeny Houdini

Kathy Crable for Valentine Barks

Lindsay Moretti for A Valentine For Mr. Weatherly

11. Best Story From A Young Writer:

Sophie Moore (age 10) for Detective Spot And The Search For A New Cupid (also clever and funny!)

Congratulations to all of you for fantastic elements of your stories!  Please email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com subject line Prize Winner to collect your award badge and prize, which is five dollars in a format that can be emailed for you to put toward something you’d like at a large online store (and I’m being cryptic because when I’ve done this for previous contests I got a ton of problematic spam mail because of the way I worded the post, but hopefully you can figure it out.  The store starts with the letter A 😊) I know it’s not much, but hopefully it will come in handy for something!

And now…

…the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The announcement of the WINNERS OF THE 2021 VALENTINY CONTEST as voted on by you, our devoted readers!!!

rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat

DDDRRRUUUMMM RRROOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

In First Place

Winner of the whole shebang…

who gets first choice of all the prizes…

Michaela Almeida
for

A Change Of Heart!!!

Congratulations, Michaela! Terrific job 😊

In Second Place

Daniella Kaufman
for
Sweet Valentine

Congratulations, Daniella! You get to pick your prize after Michaela.

In Third Place

Katie Brandyberry
for
Valentine Delivery – Part II

Congratulations, Katie! You get to pick your prize after Michaela and Daniella.

In Fourth Place

Jesse Anna Bornemann
for
Showdown In Smoochalot

Congratulations, Jesse! You get to pick your prize after Michaela, Daniella, and Katie!

In Fifth Place

Allison Strick
for
Percy’s Performance

Congratulations, Allison! You get to pick after Michaela, Daniella, Katie, and Jesse!

In Sixth Place...

Katie Palazzola
for
Oog Love Rock

Congratulations, Katie! I’m sure you get the idea of how the prize picking goes by now 😊

In Seventh Place…

Sarah Meade
for
V-Day!

Congratulations, Sarah!  You get to pick next 😊

In Eighth Place…

Amy Leskowski
for
Cupid’s Confidence

Congratulations, Amy! You get to pick after Sarah 😊

In Ninth Place…

Laura Bost
for
Flicker’s Valentine

Congratulations, Laura!  You get to pick after Amy! 😊

In Tenth Place…

Kate Thompson
for
The Valentine’s Cake

Congratulations, Kate! You get to pick after Laura! 😊

In Eleventh Place…

Sara Petersohn
for
Valentine Wins

Congratulations, Sara! You get to pick after Kate! 😊

In Twelfth Place…

Kimberly Shrack
for
The Perfect Valentine

Congratulations, Kimberly! You get to pick your prize after Sara! 😊

In Thirteenth Place…

Emily Keener
for
Special Delivery

Congratulations, Emily! You get to pick after Kimberly!

In Fourteenth Place…

Zach Schloss
for
Hoppy Belated Valentine

Congratulations, Zach!

All the winners should email me at susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com with the subject heading Prize Winner so we can work out details for you to receive your prizes!  (The sooner the better!)  And for your convenience, the whole prize list is included at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations again to all our winners – it was a stiff competition!! – and congratulations to EVERYONE who wrote and entered a story in the contest.  You all deserve a huge round of applause and a gigantic chocolate heart… or lots of little chocolate hearts… or both… really, you can never have too much chocolate 😊 .

Oh! And as a special reward I will tell you that Princess Poppy went to the Bouncy Trouncy Pouncy Flouncy Pogosticking Championship and pogoed with astounding energy, bouncing and jumping as, one by one, all the other competitors fell victim to Jelly Legs and toppled off their pogo sticks, and she was so impressive that not only did she win the competition and the life-sized golden pogo stick trophy (“That’s my girl!” her mother said proudly), they also named a brand of beans after her, so now you can buy Princess Poppy Beans – Beans That Pop With Flavor and Will Make You Jump For Joy! They are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein so you really can’t go wrong! Try some with your chocolate! (er… or maybe that WOULD be wrong 🤣)

Thank you to everyone who helped make this contest SO MUCH FUN, whether by writing an entry, reading people’s stories, leaving comments for the authors, and/or voting in the finals.  It’s because of all of you that this contest was such a success, so many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Have a marvelous Wednesday, everyone! 😊

The Prizes:  Swoonworthy! As always, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful prizes donated by our very generous friends in the kidlit community! Just look at all these goodies!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Read & Critique from agent Mary Cummings of Great River Literary, “an agency devoted exclusively to representing authors and author/illustrators of books for children and teens. Strong relationships with editors have resulted in a rapidly growing list of sales of board and picture books, chapter books and novels to such publishing houses as Knopf; Philomel; Viking; Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Balzer & Bray; Walker; Little, Brown; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Feiwel & Friends; FSG; Running Press; WorthyKids; Abrams; Random House; Wiseman S & S; Chronicle; Candlewick; HarperCollins and many others.”

⭐️ 1/2 Hour Zoom Picture Book Manuscript Critique or Mentoring Session with author Lynne Marie!

Author Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing 2016), NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge 2020), and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK (Beaming Books, 2021)

⭐️ Access to author/editor Alayne Kay Christian‘s webinars! Alayne is the author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press, 2008), SIENNA THE COWGIRL FAIRY: COWBOY TROUBLE (Blue Whale Press 2021), THE WEED THAT WOKE CHRISTMAS (Blue Whale Press, 2020), and AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN (Blue Whale Press, 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rebecca Gardyn Levington author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, Summer 2022), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024) and a contributor to the delightful anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, October 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2021), LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (Aladdin, September 2022), and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Query Letter Critique from Jessica Stremer author of the forthcoming GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023)

Author Jessica Stremer

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Union Square Kids, 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, 2021), and the forthcoming MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023)

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE KING CAKE BABY by Keila Dawson

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM by Melissa Berger Stoller

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of IT’S A MUFFULETTA! IT’S A WHATA? (Spork 2021) by Patricia Saunders

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of Winner’s Choice of any available Susanna Leonard Hill picture book

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

With Prideful Heart – The 7th Annual Valentiny Contest Is HERE!!!

Hi Everyone! I’m so sorry, but there is absolutely no chance I’m going to have finalists Friday morning as I originally posted. I’m not even sure when to say I will have them, though I’ll get them up as soon as I can. It will not be over this weekend, I’m sure of that. Thank you all for your patience. I’m so sorry for the delay!

[For those trying to post, you must click on the Blog Post Title to get on the blog post page and access the comments]

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Whether your characters are filled with pride and joy, puffed up with pride, or in danger of pride going before a fall, the time has come for . . .

The 7th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels proud!  They can be proud in a good way or a bad way. They can be proud of themselves for asking someone to be their Valentine, or they can be proud of how they asked. They can be proud of a Valentine they make, or a Valentine celebration they plan. They can be proud of giving something up, or proud of asking someone they’re not sure about for some reason in order to be nice. They can be proud of their performance in a Valentines Day play or concert or parade. . . sky’s the limit!  Just make sure it is clearly Valentine-centered! Think beyond the obvious!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone proud (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 😊 ) You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)  If you are so inclined, you are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊  No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below between right now this very second and Sunday February 13th by 11:59 PM EDT.  There will be no regularly scheduled posts for the duration of the contest (Tuesday Debut, Would You Read It, or PPBF), so the post and all of your entries will stay up for everyone to enjoy.  If you have difficulty with the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you. [Also, a small note: I have a serious family situation at the moment. I didn’t want to cancel the contest at the last minute, but please be patient with me if it takes me a while to post emailed entries and update the link list etc. I will do my best, but apologies in advance for delays.]

The Judging: my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 6-12 top choices depending on number and quality of entries (hee hee hee – you know how much trouble I have with the narrowing, so we’ll see) which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Friday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 21st depending on judging and voting time needed.  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using pride, and success in making us feel the pride (whether it’s good pride or bad)!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story and Valentine’s Day must be central to it!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines.

The Prizes:  As always, we are so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful prizes donated by our very generous friends in the kidlit community! Just look at all these goodies!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Read & Critique from agent Mary Cummings of Great River Literary, “an agency devoted exclusively to representing authors and author/illustrators of books for children and teens. Strong relationships with editors have resulted in a rapidly growing list of sales of board and picture books, chapter books and novels to such publishing houses as Knopf; Philomel; Viking; Nancy Paulsen/Penguin; Balzer & Bray; Walker; Little, Brown; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Feiwel & Friends; FSG; Running Press; WorthyKids; Abrams; Random House; Wiseman S & S; Chronicle; Candlewick; HarperCollins and many others.”

⭐️ 1/2 Hour Zoom Picture Book Manuscript Critique or Mentoring Session with author Lynne Marie!

Author Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the accomplished author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten – art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play — art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares — art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019),  Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World — art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019) and The Three Little Pigs And The Rocket Project — art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022) and American Pie — art by Dea Lenihan (Dancing Flamingo Press, April 12, 2022)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

⭐️ 30 Minute Zoom Ask Me Anything with Keila Dawson, author of THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing 2016), NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge 2020), and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK (Beaming Books, 2021)

⭐️ Access to author/editor Alayne Kay Christian‘s webinars! Alayne is the author of BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA (Blue Whale Press, 2008), SIENNA THE COWGIRL FAIRY: COWBOY TROUBLE (Blue Whale Press 2021), THE WEED THAT WOKE CHRISTMAS (Blue Whale Press, 2020), and AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN (Blue Whale Press, 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), SADIE’S SHABAT STORIES (Spork, 2020) and PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Rebecca Gardyn Levington author of BRAINSTORM! (Sleeping Bear Press, Summer 2022), I WILL ALWAYS BE…(HarperCollins, Spring 2024) and a contributor to the delightful anthology HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING (Pomelo Books, October 2020)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2021), LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR (Aladdin, September 2022), and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Query Letter Critique from Jessica Stremer author of the forthcoming GREAT CARRIER REEF (Holiday House, 2023)

Author Jessica Stremer

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Union Square Kids, 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, 2021), and the forthcoming MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023)

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of THE KING CAKE BABY by Keila Dawson

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM by Melissa Berger Stoller

⭐️ Personalized Signed Copy of IT’S A MUFFULETTA! IT’S A WHATA? (Sprok 2021) by Patricia Saunders

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now! Put your heart into it and proudly post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries! 😊

ENTRIES (all entries are linked) [will be linked tomorrow – sorry for delay]

  1. The Perfect Present – Sara Kruger
  2. Dr. Basil Discovers His Secret Admirer – Royal Baysinger
  3. Teeny Houdini – Heather Ferranti Kinser
  4. How To Win At Wordle – Anne Lipton
  5. Eva Valentina’s Day – Katie Fischer
  6. Chick Forgot Valentine’s Day – Jess Burbank
  7. The Make-A-Valentine Contest – Hanna Geshelin
  8. Never Too Many Valentines – Lori C. Evans
  9. Proud As A Peacock – Bru Benson
  10. Valentine Farm – Jennifer Lowe
  11. Gary Groundhog Conquers The Shadow Monster – Deborah Foster
  12. Tucker And The Sneezies – Susan E. Schipper
  13. When Dad Is Away – Aileen Stewart
  14. It’s Valentine’s Day, Thomas, The Worm – Maria Lahman
  15. The House On The Corner – Elyse Trevers
  16. Staying In The Lines – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf
  17. Top Of The World – Christine Alemshah
  18. The Canape Caper – Cathy Stenquist
  19. My Icky Sticky Valentine – Chayala Nachum
  20. The Best Card Maker – Stephanie Maksymiw
  21. Dad Gets Weird On Valentine’s Day – Debbie Day
  22. The Valentine Tiff – Sally Yorke-Viney
  23. Glitter & Glue – Janna MacLean
  24. Heart Aflutter – Kelly Clasen
  25. Little Things – Molly Ippolito
  26. Veronica’s Surprise – Janel Caverly
  27. My Quiet Valentine – Amanda Sherlock
  28. Who’s Ana? – Ellie Langford
  29. Prince Of The Pride – Jessica Seitz
  30. Cupid’s Big Day – Marty Bellis
  31. A Match Made In Socks – Laura Heath
  32. Momma’s Smile – Amber Hendricks
  33. The Perfect Valentine – Kimberly Shrack
  34. Miss Frog And Mister Turtle – Sharon McCarthy
  35. The Trees Of The Girl Who Raised Bees – B.J. Genovese
  36. Mailbirds: Valentine’s Day – Reed Ambrose
  37. The Perfect Card – Keely Leim
  38. Valentine’s Day Is For Everyone – Janet Scratchley
  39. Valentine’s In The Jungle – Melissa Rafson Friedman
  40. The Lovesick Groundhog – Debbie Daugherty
  41. Rosas For Senor Perez – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  42. Get Well Soon, Mrs. Love – Rebekah Hoeft
  43. A Valentine For You – Marty Findley
  44. Cupid, A New Generation – Linda Staszak
  45. A Valentine For Her – Marty Findley
  46. Mr. Sunder’s Valentine’s Day Cookie – Marta Cutler
  47. Valentine Countdown – Marta Cutler
  48. V’s For Valentine – Rachel Bandy
  49. ValenTINY – Jessica Milo
  50. Three Hearts – A. Kidd
  51. I Whale Always Love You – Kimberly Horch
  52. Isabella’s Valentine – Terrie Hellard-Brown
  53. Dear Moon – Carissa Brown
  54. A Nose For Love – Julie Kurtz
  55. Rabbit [heart] Rebecca – Anne Bromley
  56. The Heart Of A Wizard – Jany Campana
  57. Sweet Valentine – Daniella Kaufman
  58. The Valentine’s Cake – Kate Thompson
  59. Gene’s Forbidden Valentine – Vanessa Konoval
  60. The Best Part – Sarah Meade
  61. V-Day! – Sarah Meade
  62. The Special Valentine Card – Sherry Roberts
  63. Cutting Is Hard – Ashley Chance
  64. Hammie’s Valentine Surprise – Jenna Elyse Johnson
  65. Pinky’s Message – Elizabeth Muster
  66. Everyting You Taught Me – Shuba Mohan
  67. It’s A Matter Of Taste – Corine Timmer
  68. Broken Hearts Need Love Too – Stephanie Henson
  69. All Aboard – Debbie Whittam
  70. Dove Letters – Amy LaMae Brewer
  71. My Furry Valentine – Tiffany Hanson
  72. A Squawking Serenade – Tiffany Hanson
  73. Proud That You Are Mine – Tonnye Fletcher
  74. Mother, You Are One In A Million – Elaine D’Alessandro
  75. King Of Love – Sue Ko
  76. Rose’s Creative Valentines – Elaine D’Alessandro
  77. Dear Valentine – Jill Burns
  78. Subterranean Lovesick Blues – Andrea MacDonald
  79. Love, Mama And Me – Karen Olmstead
  80. A Gift For My Mami – Lana Montalban
  81. Baby Bear’s Heart – Lori Himmel
  82. Gumballs – Jill Purtee
  83. Beaming With Pride – Paul Kurtz
  84. Proud As A Peacock – Paul Kurtz
  85. Don’t-Let-The-Dung-Beetle-Make-The-Valentine-Brownies! – Donna Kurtz
  86. Best Valentine’s Day Ever! – Donna Kurtz
  87. To Sarah – Elizabeth Westra
  88. The Heart-Shaped Mitten – Sherri T. Mercer
  89. Love Inside – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  90. Valentine’s Field Trip – Darcee Freier
  91. Heart And Hands – Marjorie David
  92. Flicker’s Valentine – Laura Bost
  93. A Valentine For Birders – Geraldine Oades-Sese
  94. The Floofabims – Sabrina Shah
  95. I Wanted To Say I Love You – Joy Curtis
  96. Percy’s Performance – Allison Strick
  97. Showdown In Smoochalot – Jesse Anna Bornemann
  98. Theo’s Not-So-Perfect Valentine’s Day – Kelsey E. Gross
  99. Mama, Are You Proud Of Me? – Pamela Swanson
  100. Awesome Together – Sarah Hetu
  101. Valentine’s Breakfast For Mom – Patti Ranson
  102. Special Delivery – Emily Keener
  103. Harriet’s Cards – Jessica Reed
  104. Dolley’s Favorite Month – Lincoln Mansch
  105. Llama Love – Laura Bower
  106. Will You Be My Valentine? – Michelle S. Kennedy
  107. Sunshine Valentine – Vashti Verbowski
  108. Shelby’s Heartache – Susannah Lee
  109. Taffy’s Sweet Surprise – Mary Schultz
  110. Where Is Puppito? – Bridget Magee
  111. Princess Candace – Sheila R. Schmotzer
  112. Suzie And Jordan’s Special Day – Shadi Kafi
  113. Valentine Delivery – Part II (sequel to 2021 Valentine Contest Entry) – Katie Brandyberry
  114. A Friend For Valentine’s Day – Daniele Arndt
  115. Hoppy Belated Valentine – Zach Schloss
  116. Remember The Love – Ashley Murray
  117. The Proudest Pencil – Lori Sheroan
  118. My Gummy Love – Lauri C. Meyers
  119. Love ME – Melissa Rutigliano
  120. Love Potions And Laughter – Tiffany Hanson
  121. A Cake-tastrophe – Tiffany Hanson
  122. The Valentine’s Day Invitiational – Lori Keating
  123. Lost But Found – Armineh Manookian
  124. L-O-V-E – Ronda Einbinder
  125. Shakesbear In Love – MaryLee Flannigan
  126. A New Friend – Steve Jankousky
  127. What Kind Of Cupid Am I? – Alayne Kay Christian
  128. My Hero – Dawn Young
  129. Valentine’s Day Dance-Off In Nestville – Lynn Marie Moore
  130. Hidden In These Hallowed Hills – Shuba Mohan
  131. A Rose For Toad – Ashlee MacCallum
  132. I Do NOT Like Rohini Rao – Sandhya Acharya
  133. Untitled – M.M. Sutanto
  134. A Heart Of Gold – Ryan Schneck
  135. Haiku Valentines: Love In 5-7-5 Rhyme – Brenda Whitehead
  136. Kate’s Valentines – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  137. A Nest For Bluegill – Katie Palazzola
  138. A Puzzling Valentine – My Side Of The Phone Call… – Ingrid Boydston
  139. Smelly Kelly – Glenda Roberson
  140. Underneath It All – Carrie Charley Brown
  141. How To Find A Valentine – Bevin Rolfs Spencer
  142. My Daddy’s Valentine – Gayle Krause
  143. Proud Valentine’s Day – Deborah Hunt
  144. A Valentine For Annie B. Bear – Charlotte Dixon
  145. Valentine’s Day Heartache – Cindy Greene
  146. Valentine Shenanigans – Vasilia Graboski
  147. You Make Me So Proud – Erika Romero
  148. I Am Proud To Be Your Friend – Kerry Porter
  149. Love Somebody – Brigid Finucane
  150. Marcus Is Not An Elephant: How A Woolly Mammoth Makes A Friend – Susan Schwartz Twiggs
  151. Purple Lace – Liz Kehrli
  152. Puppy Love – Kathy Halsey
  153. Valentine’s Day Booty – Danielle Sharkan
  154. Wholeheartedly – Catherine Brewer
  155. Valentine Barks – Kathy Crable
  156. Oog Love Rock – Katie Palazzola
  157. C.I.T. (Cupid In Training) – Colleen Murphy
  158. Allie’s Biggest Heart – Julianna Helt
  159. Detective Spot And The Search For A New Cupid – Sophia Moore (age 10)
  160. The Valentine Surprise – Claire Noland
  161. The Purrfect Valentine – Tara Knox Cerven
  162. A Valentine For Mr. Weatherly – Lindsay Moretti
  163. A Proud Mum – Shariffa Keshavje
  164. Valentine’s Day At Sweet Pig’s – Patricia Corcoran
  165. Poppy’s Gift – Melanie Adkins
  166. Go Tell Bully Brady – Mona Pease
  167. Valentine Surprise – Abby Wooldridge
  168. Full Of Heart – Allison Burke
  169. Two Little Valentines – Judy Abelove Shemtob
  170. A Change Of Heart – Michaela Almeida
  171. The Mural – Susanne Whitehouse
  172. The Perfect Friend Chip – Cheryl Simon
  173. Sloth’s Original Valentine – Judy Sobanski
  174. Be My Fred – Lisa Furness
  175. Cupid’s Confidence – Amy Leskowski
  176. The Flower Code – Ashlee Hashman
  177. A Valentine For Jake – Andrew Fairchild
  178. Cardi V – Alicia Meyers
  179. The Heart Of The Matter – Sarah Marhevsky
  180. Bear And Fish – A Love Story – Aly Kenna
  181. Valentine Wins – Sara Petersohn
  182. Sweet Breakfast – JC Kelly
  183. ValenTalent Show – Becky Goodman
  184. Marla’s Mistake – Jessica Watts
  185. The Koi That Should Have Been In The Zodiac – MeiLin Chan
  186. Surprise Valentine’s Day Party – Una Belle Townsend
  187. My First Love – Adolfo Gomez-Herrera